GMV leads €78.4 million European Space Agency satellite effort

05 April 2024 11:21

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Madrid/Lisbon/Zurich - Many satellite-based navigation systems depend on devices in medium-Earth orbit. Now GMV will lead a €78.4 million European Space Agency program to build five satellites that will transmit signals in low-Earth orbit, where transmissions could be stronger and clearer. It is working together with the Swiss company Beyond Gravity, among others.

Spanish technology company GMV has won a €78.4 million contract to develop satellite technologies for the European Space Agency, or ESA, according to a GMV press release. The project aims to demonstrate the benefits of low-Earth orbit satellites in new, multi-layered approaches for global positioning, navigating, and timing systems.

Currently, most space-based navigation systems depend on satellites in medium-Earth orbit. Low-earth orbiters, however, can deliver stronger, clearer signals to receivers on the ground.

The ESA’s contract includes the design and development of five low-Earth-orbit-positioning-navigation-timing, or LEO-PNT, satellites, launch services, ground infrastructures, test users, system operations, and testing with end users. The first satellite, which will feature 12U Cubesat architecture, is expected to launch in the middle of next year. The next four satellites will launch through 2027.

GMV will oversee the project and satellite development. The Portuguese team at GMV plays a crucial role in the user segment, where it leads the development of one of the test receivers, ensures the availability of simulation signals to test the satellites on the ground, and contributes significantly to the innovative integrity concept that will be tested in this demonstrator.

GMV will partner with Bremen, Germany’s OHB System AG; Vigo, Spain-based Alén Space; Beyond Gravity based in Zurich, Switzerland, and Madrid, Spain-headquartered Indra.

OHB System AG will manufacture four of the satellites in Bremen, bringing the company’s total production of Galileo satellites to 34.

These LEO-PNT satellites will send signals in UHF, L, S, and C bands to complement the signals that Galileo and GPS satellites now transmit. Importantly, GMV will develop an innovative “LEO shield” to determine if the satellites were picking up global navigation satellite system, or GNSS, signals or malfunctioning. ce/jd

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